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debt, as compensation for the same services alleged in his present bill, and that the cause of action was the same as now set up and asserted; that on June 24, 1907, a final decree was made and entered in said cause by the said Circuit Court, and this, on appeal, was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia in accordance with opinions found in 59 S. E. Rep. 421 (107 Virginia, 527), in which it was held that defendant Mary H. Murray was a privy in estate to Miss Hollingsworth, her grantor, and a privy also to the contract with complainant, and that the said Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, affirming the Circuit Court, determined that complainant had no right to recover on said cause of action, wherefore defendant pleaded the final adjudication of the Virginia court as res adjudicata. There was filed with the plea a certified copy of the record of the proceedings had in the Circuit Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, and in the Supreme Court of Appeals of that State. Subsequently, complainant filed in the Pendleton County Court written objections to the plea of res adjudicata, upon the following grounds: First, that the Circuit Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, after the rendition of the judgment pleaded by defendant, in another cause pending in that court between the Chesapeake-Western Company and the complainant, John E. Roller, and others, in which latter cause the said Mary H. Murray was impleaded as a party, decreed that the matters involved in the cause pending in the Circuit Court of Pendleton County, West Virginia, were not concluded by the judgment and decree of the Circuit Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, and did therefore vacate and dissolve certain injunctions previously awarded in that cause restraining complainant from further prosecution in the West Virginia court of his present suit against said Mary H. Murray. Secondly, that the cause of action and grounds of jurisdiction and relief in the present cause are
Opinion of the Court.
234 U. S.
not the same as those set out in the record filed in the plea of res adjudicata. And thirdly, that the record and judgment of the Virginia court should not be enforced as res adjudicata for the following reasons: (a) that the courts of West Virginia do not enforce foreign judgments that are contrary to the laws and public policy of that State; (b) that the decree rests not upon rights arising ex contractu, or upon torts based on natural rights, but upon a penalty denounced by the policy of the law of Virginia which is not so denounced by the policy of the law of the State of West Virginia, and that it is not one of such nature as the courts of West Virginia will enforce; and (c) that the lex loci rei sita determines the jurisdiction and relief to be given by this court as to the land in the bill referred to, regardless of the judgment of any sister State as to land therein situate.
The Circuit Court of Pendleton County, West Virginia, sustained the plea of res adjudicata and dismissed the bill, and it is the judgment of the court of last resort of West Virginia affirming this decree that is now under review.
There are three assignments of error, the substance of which is as follows:
First, that the court erred in holding that the plea of res adjudicata filed by the defendant Mary H. Murray was a good and sufficient plea, for the reason that the decree therein relied upon in terms provided that it should be without prejudice to complainant's right to institute other proceedings upon a quantum meruit if so advised, and that the record shows the cause of action and ground of jurisdiction were not the same in the present West Virginia action as those set out and contained in the record in the Virginia action; the present action being based upon a quantum meruit for just and reasonable compensation for services rendered by complainant in and about the recovery of the tract of land in controversy.
Second, that the court erred in sustaining the action of the court below upholding the plea of res adjudicata, because the decrees in the Virginia courts presented in that plea were void and of no effect since they had denied to complainant due process of law, in that they had denied to him the right to file the third amended bill of complaint tendered by him, and denied him a hearing upon the case thereby presented.
Third, that the court erred in sustaining the action of the court below in overruling the objections made by complainant to the plea of res adjudicata, because in the suit of Chesapeake-Western Company v. Roller, et al., it was necessarily decided that the matters involved in the case in the West Virginia courts were not concluded by the decrees rendered in the first cause of Roller v. Murray in the Virginia courts.
There is a motion to dismiss or affirm, based upon the ground that no Federal question is raised by the record, or that if any such question is raised it is so frivolous as not to need further argument.
It appears that the Virginia court (107 Virginia, 527), denied relief to complainant with respect to the lands in that State upon the ground that the contract upon which the action was based was champertous, and therefore illegal under the laws of the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (71 W. Va. 161), finding that this decision was rendered not in a mere proceeding in rem or quasi in rem, but in an action in personam (defendants having appeared, and the validity of the contract constituting the basis of the plaintiff's claim to the fund or to the land having been actually litigated by the parties and decided by the courts), that decision necessarily settled and determined the question of the validity of the contract in the State of Virginia, and that under the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution of the United States the decision was entitled to the same credit
Opinion of the Court.
234 U. S.
in West Virginia that it had in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Upon this ground, although assuming that the contract was valid under the law of West Virginia viewed independently of the Virginia decision, the court held itself bound by the Virginia decision to deny relief to complainant.
It is argued under the first assignment of error that the contract in controversy must be held to be a Pennsylvania contract, and that its validity and enforcement in the courts of West Virginia did not depend upon the decision of the Virginia courts, but required an independent consideration upon its merits by the courts of West Virginia, and that their failure to give such consideration was a denial of due process of law. We are unable to find that it was contended in the courts of West Virginia that the contract in question was made in Pennsylvania or ought for other reasons to be regarded as a Pennsylvania contract; nor are we able to find that the "due process of law" clause was invoked in the West Virginia courts upon the ground that to follow the Virginia decision would be a denial of the right of plaintiff in error to such process. Assuming the contention to have been made, we are unable to see that any Federal question was thereby raised. Supposing the courts of West Virginia erred in giving conclusive effect to the Virginia decision, this was no more than an error of law, committed in the exercise of jurisdiction over the subject-matter and the parties; and such an error-not involving a Federal question-affords no opportunity for a review in this court.
The same response must be made to the second argument presented under the first assignment of error, which is that the contract in controversy shows that its terms, so far as they related to the property within the jurisdiction of West Virginia, were different from those which related to the property in Virginia, and that the West Virginia court, in holding them to be the same and refusing
to recognize the contract as a West Virginia contract deprived plaintiff in error of his property without due process of law.
It is not contended that the West Virginia court, in holding the Virginia judgment to be conclusive upon the present controversy, violated the "full faith and credit" clause of the Federal Constitution. By that clause, and by the act of Congress (§ 905, Rev. Stat.) passed to carry it into effect, it was incumbent upon the West Virginia court to give to the judgment the same faith and credit that it had by law or usage in the courts of Virginia. The effect of this was that, provided the Virginia court had jurisdiction of the subject-matter and of the parties (which was not questioned), the merits of the controversy there concluded were not open to reinvestigation in the courts of West Virginia. It is not here questioned that the West Virginia courts gave such credit to the Virginia judgment as was thus required.
Under the second assignment of error, the argument is that plaintiff in error was denied due process in the Virginia courts in that the Circuit Court of Rockingham County arbitrarily and unlawfully rejected his third amended bill, and its action in so doing was affirmed by the court of last resort of that State. Upon this point the West Virginia court (71 W. Va. 170), said:
"The said amendment was offered at a very late stage of the proceedings. The court based its rejection thereof upon two grounds, the delay in tendering it without excuse or explanation and its failure to show a contract materially different from that set up in the original and first and second amended bills. In disposing of the amendment, the court said: 'The bill had been amended twice already, and after these amendments, and after a thorough argument of the case on its merits, the court announced its decision. A due regard for the orderly procedure of the court and the rights of the opposing party required